Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka was an easy first-round winner Wednesday at the $5.3 million Miami Open tennis event.
The former world No. 1 Belarusian star blew past Spaniard Silvia Soler- Espinosa 6-1, 6-3 at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park.
The currently 36th-ranked Azarenka titled here back in 2009 and 2011.
Up next for Azarenka will be 20th-seeded fellow former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, who was last week's runner-up at Indian Wells and reached the final in Miami back in 2008.
In action involving Americans, Christina McHale handled Romanian Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 6-4, Alison Riske downed Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-4, 6-0 and Poland's Urszula Radwanska outlasted Coco Vandeweghe 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3.
One-time world No. 7 Nicole Vaidisova moved on by handling Hungarian Timea Babos 6-1, 7-6 (7-4). The 25-year-old Czech Vaidisova retired from the WTA in 2010, but decided to return to the courts last year and has now played in two WTA-level events so far in 2015, going 1-1.
Meanwhile, Britain's Heather Watson came back to beat Russian Evgeniya Rodina, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5; Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova doused Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova 6-4, 6-3; rising Swiss teen Belinda Bencic bounced Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 6-1, 7-6 (7-5); and German Annika Beck held off Chinese Zhang Shuai 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Also on Day 2, German Julia Goerges whipped Slovak Jana Cepelova 6-1, 6-0; German Tatjana Maria dismissed Italian Roberta Vinci 7-6 (11-9), 6-3; Swiss Stefanie Voegele drubbed Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-2; Russian Elena Vesnina rolled past Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru 6-4, 6-2; France's Pauline Parmentier overtook Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 4-6, 6-2, 6-3; and Russian Daria Gavrilova got past New Zealand's Marina Erakovic 5-1, retired.
The top seeds in South Florida are world No. 1 superstar Serena Williams, former top-ranked star Maria Sharapova, last week's Indian Wells champ Simona Halep, and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. The reigning Australian and U.S. Open champion Williams captured a seventh Miami championship by beating Li Na in last year's finale. The reigning Roland Garros titlist Sharapova is a five-time Miami runner-up.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who pulled out of her semifinal at Indian Wells last week because of a knee injury, is scheduled to open up here on Friday against Romanian Monica Niculescu, while Sharapova will take on her fellow Russian Gavrilova on Thursday.
The 2015 Miami champion will earn $900,400.